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This group is creating safe places in nature for the queer community

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Posted at 11:21 AM, Jun 14, 2024

MONROE COUNTY — Hiking, kayaking, and birding all sound like relatively safe activities to most folks. But safety in the outdoors isn’t always guaranteed, especially for members of marginalized communities. It’s something Tyler Moore knows firsthand.

“I have a lot of privilege when it comes to enjoying outdoor recreation,” Moore said. “I am a gay man. I'm cisgendered. I am pretty straight-passing. When people look at me, they don't immediately think of someone who is queer, and that gives me a lot of privilege outside and in outdoor recreation spaces.”

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Moore is the founder of Queer Indiana, a community organization dedicated to cultivating and growing safe places in nature for the queer community.

“We try to organize at least one outdoor recreation event a month,” Moore said. “Those events range from plant [and] fungus identification hikes, pride hikes, kayaking, [and] gardening. We try to have a variety of outdoor recreation events for the queer community to show up authentically and express themselves authentically while enjoying nature.”

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Authenticity can be a challenge for some members of the LGBTQ community according to Moore. It is part of the reason Queer Indiana was created.

“I started having a conversation with a trans woman who was in the middle of her transition during the pandemic,” Moore said. "She said that she didn't feel like she could fully pass as a woman yet and that created a fear and a threat for them to go out and enjoy nature.”

That conversation left Moore with a changed perspective.

“I never really realized how easy it is for me to just go out and hike by myself,” Moore said. “I decided to merge this love of nature and outdoor recreation with this idea of wanting to foster a queer community.”

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As Queer Indiana continues to grow both in size and diversity, its calendar of events is also evolving to include more educational elements.

“When we're learning how to identify native plants and flowers and gaining that knowledge of nature, people love that,” Moore said. “It creates this new kind of childlike excitement when you're out and exploring outdoors in a safe environment, and also with people who are like minded and curious.”

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Moore says you don’t have to identify as LGBTQ to participate in Queer Indiana events, but he does as that every participant approaches the group with care and sensitivity.

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“At the start of every event, we always go around and say our names and our pronouns so that people are respected,” Moore said. “We really respect that and the diversity that comes with that. There's no judgment. If you want to come out and enjoy nature, feel free to do so authentically.”

You can find a full list of events by visiting the Queer Indiana Facebook page.

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